Cars & Coffee Features Rare Mini Cooper ‘S’

By Brian Davis

This March, a group of retired members of the Illinois Flat Land British Car Club (IFLBCC) were invited to Fred Bohart’s garage for a Cars & Coffee gathering.  Also in attendance were British car expert Bill Dierker and Fred’s longtime friend Bobby F.

Fred’s garage is a new Morton type building, equipped with a lift, mezzanine and office area.  Our Host treated the group to coffee, rolls and the traditional “Motoring Monday” natter and noggin.

This week, however, we had another “Special Guest” . . . a 1964 Austin Mini Cooper ‘S’ Mark 1 (1071 cc) owned by Bobby F.  Bob has owned this original, unrestored, example of a US spec Mini for the past twenty-four years, and made a special trip from Peoria to Chenoa IL just for us.

Originally purchased from a well-known Mini racer, Don Racine, Bob’s car is a rarity anywhere, but especially in the US.  The first Mini’s were produced in 1959, but it wasn’t until 1963 that the BMC Competition Department recognized the Mini’s potential for racing and rallying.  Their efforts produced the Austin and Morris Cooper ‘S’ models, featuring the specially cast engine block and cylinder head.

Bob’s tells us that he believes his car is a 1963, but not officially registered until January of 1964, making it one of the first Cooper ‘S’ models using the 1071cc motor.

As I walked around this Mini Cooper ‘S’, many of the original features of this very special car became evident. One of the most obvious features of this car is the original Tartan Red and Grey (Gold brocade) interior.  Even the headliner used the brocade pattern.  Some of the Interior 1071cc “S” features that I noted include:

  • Central instrument cluster contains 120MPH speedometer (also containing the fuel gauge), temperature gauge on LHS and oil pressure gauge on RHS.
  • Three-point seatbelts were standard on the front seats only.
  • Carpeted boot board, resting on support brackets

This Mini had just returned from California, following its motor and hydraulic restoration using factory specs.  Fitted with a rare and original 1071 cc motor, Bob’s Mini is believed to be an extremely rare LHD example, still fitted with the original rust-free shell.

While most Mk1 Minis share common external features, some features I noted were specific to Cooper ‘S’ 1071 cc examples.  Here a just a few:

  • Single left hand side fuel tank only (dual tanks were not standard on the 1071 Cooper S, however, many cars have been modified with this feature).
  • Vented 9 slot wheels (10” X 4.5”), painted red on Bob’s car, had a more negative offset than the standard mini and Cooper.
  • Cars specifically delivered to the U.S. market (very few) had all red tail lights, with all other markets receiving amber turn signals.
  • Boot lid internal lining had a hardcover vinyl type lining over the inner boot lid, held in place with small chrome screws and upholstery washers.

Motoring Monday get-togethers are always a great time, but as a life-long fan of Mini Coopers, this one was a VERY special occasion for me.